The Life of Napoleon: Volume 5

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: William Hazlitt

Narrated By: Robert Bethune

Publisher: Freshwater Seas

Date: October 2016

Duration: 10 hours 35 minutes

Summary:

William Hazlitt is one of the foremost writers of the English language. His fame as a critic, essayist and social commentator ranks with the likes of Samuel Johnson and George Orwell. He considered his justly famous Life of Napoleon as his most important work.

In this, the fifth volume of the work, William Hazlitt takes us through his fall from power. He shows us how the situation of Europe at that time: England controlling the sea, England, Austria, Russia and Prussia massed on the borders of France, ready to consummate their twenty-five year struggle to restore the Bourbon monarchy. Nor were these the only enemies confronting Napoleon. Many of his own countrymen were ready to turn their backs on him, now that his aura of invincibility was at an end, destroyed by the disastrous campaign in Russia and further defeats in Europe. Hazlitt brings us to the great climax of the tragedy, the battle of Waterloo, and then follows Napoleon as he casts himself on the mercy of the English and finds himself transported to St. Helena.

Hazlitt was a life-long admirer of Napoleon and of the French Revolution, but his admiration was not blind. His analysis is both passionate and clear-sighted. At this stage in Napoleon's career, he focuses more on the great events, less on the man and his mind. It is an appropriate focus; at this stage in his life, Napoleon's whole existence was wrapped up in those great events, his personal life was submerged in them.

Hazlitt sometimes transcends and sometimes falls victim to the prevailing attitudes of his day. His thinking sometimes juxtaposes highly progressive ideas with casual bigotry. His text has been left as he wrote it; it is valuable to hear and remember that even great minds have held ideas we prefer to think we have overcome.

The Life of Napoleon was originally published in four volumes in 1828-1830, not long before Hazlitt's death. It was later republished in a limited edition of six volumes by the Grolier Society. This audiobook is based on that edition.of Napoleon as his most important work.

In this, the fourth volume of the work, William Hazlitt takes us through the the great turning point in Napoleon's life: his invasion of Russia. He shows us how the situation of Europe at that time: England controlling the sea, France controlling the land, and only Russia left as a land-based threat to France. He also explores the changes in Napoleon's life and mind: his divorce from Josephine, his marriage to Maria Louisa, his friendship with the Emperor Alexander--a friendship that turned to deep enmity. Last but not least, he shows us Napoleon adrift in a world strange to him as the tried to fight a war different from any of his previous campaigns: a war across vast expanses of open land, in which he could not pin his enemy down and force him to a decisive combat, as he had so often done in Italy and Germany. Hazlitt also explores how Napoleon's campaigns in Spain also led him into unfamiliar modes of operation and political situations that did not fit the models he had used up to that time.

Hazlitt was a life-long admirer of Napoleon and of the French Revolution, but his admiration was not blind. His analysis is both passionate and clear-sighted. At this stage in Napoleon's career, he focuses more on the great evens, less on the man and his mind. It is an appropriate focus; at this stage in his life, Napoleon's whole existence was wrapped up in those great events, his personal life was submerged in them.

Hazlitt sometimes transcends and sometimes falls victim to the prevailing attitudes of his day. His thinking sometimes juxtaposes highly progressive ideas with casual bigotry. His text has been left as he wrote it; it is valuable to hear and remember that even great minds have held ideas we prefer to think we have overcome.

The Life of Napoleon was originally published in four volumes in 1828-1830, not long before Hazlitt's death. It was later republished in a limited edition of six volumes by the Grolier Society. This audiobook is based on that edition. A Freshwater Seas production.

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